With universities returning to personal learning, students and professionals have concerns

For both Carleton and uOttawa, return to class is only for courses already scheduled for personal instruction.

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The University of Ottawa returns for personal learning on January 31, while Carleton has announced that it will return on February 7.

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In both cases, the return to tuition is only for courses already scheduled for personal tuition, while other courses remain online.

But both students and faculty have questions that they say universities still need to answer.

“No one knows what Omicron will do,” said Angelo Mingarelli, a mathematics professor and president of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association, which represents nearly 1,000 professors, instructors and professional librarians.

Meanwhile, some students made decisions about their lives in early December, based on early reports about Omicron, said Tim Gulliver, president of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, which represents about 33,000 students.

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Some students have decided to return home and give up their rental housing, including some international students, he said.

The University of Ottawa has announced that all personal or bimodal courses will be given as originally planned for the winter period beginning January 31st.

More details will soon be released along with physical distance requirements, the university said. Support staff should gradually return to campus in mid-March.

“Information we have received to date from provincial and municipal public health authorities is unequivocal,” University President Jacques Frémont said in a statement.

“The message is clear: under the current circumstances, we can imagine a personal return to campus from January 31, as long as preventive measures are followed at all times, including mandatory vaccination, masking and physical distance of two meters, along with other recommendations on public health and safety. “

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Carleton said recent modeling confirms that the Omicron tip will be narrow, “with cases likely to have peaked or are about to peak, and are expected to decline rapidly thereafter.”

However, Carleton decided to postpone the return to campus by one more week until February 7 to offer time to prepare and allow for an assessment of how the plan will be affected by the return to school on January 17 for elementary school students. and high school.

Some unions on campus claim that there are still too many strangers.

“Our members do not want to get sick. They also do not want to go home and make their families sick. And that also applies to students, ”said Mingarelli, who is concerned about ventilation on campus and the availability of masks and tests.

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The union has an agreement with the university to accommodate members, but it happens from case to case, said Mingarelli, who will meet with university administrators next week.

The Association of Part-Time Professors at the University of Ottawa has urged the university to reconsider the plan.

The association said its members teach more than 80 percent of bimodal and personal classes, and part-time professors are the only group of university staff who do not have long-term disability insurance and are concerned about the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Faced with the imposition of a return to campus, “many professors will decide to give up their contracts, jeopardizing the continuity of many courses for students,” the union warned in a statement.

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About 2,600 students responded to a survey sent by the University of Ottawa Students’ Union to its members earlier this month. About half said they agreed or strongly agreed that they wanted to return to personal learning, while the other half said the opposite.

Most of the comments from those who did not want to return expressed concern about the Omicron variant and its transferability, Gulliver said.

“I think a lot of students are still worried about that.”

First- and second-year students were among those most eager to return to personal learning, possibly because they have never had the opportunity to live the entire campus experience, he said.

Carleton said students who have concerns about returning to personal education or are unable to return to Ottawa can make changes to their syllabus or enroll in online courses.

“The 2022 Winter Plan includes a mix of personal and online courses across all departments to maximize student flexibility.”

Algonquin College’s academic programming will be delivered in a hybrid state until March 6, when most theory courses will be delivered virtually while applied learning activities continue on campuses.

The college keeps an eye on the situation and public health data.

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